Being at a conference – even a good one like this – is like being on an elevator for two days, all looking in the same direction. The room we are sitting in is a bit something. Clearly a nod to generic euro-aristo, fake faded tapestries, gold trim on cream wall, far too many bevelled mirrors. The site of wedding parties – grannies have sat where I have sat ecstatic at the match and finding themselves surprisingly beyond their two wine limit. High school pals have proven themselves less than they were remembers. Five hundred bands that have not made it have not made it here. The room shows it bit. The aged gold upholstry has aged more than intended, gone pilly. Faux antique finish now looks less faux but not antique either. Beers have spilled on this carpet and been cleaned up again.

Many still keen early on

Conference orgaization has always interested me in in how it is as mannered and structed as a high Anglican mass. Who decided we need to meet like this? A few years ago I discussed creating a consultancy in disruptive converence giving, playing with the format, the book of common prayer, with the goal of making people think and learn. It only got as far as me saying and writing “zymurgy” whenever “synergy” was expected and even likely still heard.

Fast-talking man needs to get more information out after lunch is over

Two presenters present two ends of the scale. A hyper interested fast talker cannot get all his ideas out. He sounds like a bobolink, his words falling upon each other. He should attempt multiple information streams, speaking about one thing, his power point slides working on another theme, the hand-outs giving more on something else. He could be flanked by two blue-glow screens on different subjects, his pace and volume steadily increasing. Another speaker is from MegCo and he is grabbing us with the topic “what is outsourcing” – he is a good speaker but someone else, a committee perhaps, wrote his script, told him to run TV ads as part of the presentation. Apparently, “key consultants say that outsourcing has great growth potential” – dandy. Twice he refers to his power point lap top as being “McGivered” and says that we have to bear with him. How would disruptive conference consulting deal with this moment? Someone in the crowd might laugh too much at the ads and say out loud “hahaha – I saw that on TV!” If the speaker is a “recognized leader” does that make those in attendence at the conference “recognized followers”?

Friday afternoon the seats start to empty

I am a fidgetter. I fidget. I move to the back of the room so I can get up fuss with my papers, go get a juice when the speaker is not on an area that applies to me like the jurisdiction of a tribunal I cannot reach. By the end of Friday afternoon, even the speaker jokes about we who remain.

Iraqis Vote

Good to see that Iraqis are voting in big numbers. One inevitable – and, frankly, somewhat cliché – election day event occurred:

Further north in the Kurdistan town of Salamanca, CNN’s Nic Robertson reported seeing a 90-year-old woman being taken to a booth in a wheelbarrow. Others came on crutches to cast their ballot.

Something tells me there was a grannie in a wheelbarrow story out of the first elections in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa as well. It would have been interesting to find out why their kids are such deadbeats, as you can’t exactly wheel barrow yourself to a polling booth. Can’s the UN organize a “Taxis for Grannies” bureau. First you would have to register your intention to be wheelbarrowed, then actually produce the barrow in question in order to receive a taxi chit. I would, of course, accept the first commissionership for the bureau along with the apartments in Geneva which would go along with it.



Lake Ontario from the 5:35 am to the Big Smoke. Click if you must.

I met a man on the way back who took the train to and from Detroit every week. Ten hours each way to his work. I was tired of being on the train after two and a half hours. I do not seem to travel well anymore. Maybe it’s because trains in the past took me on holidays rather than work. Not complaining but sitting on a siding in Napanee waiting for the on-coming train to pass is not like heading to Belgium with a backpack when you are twenty three.

These shots are from the way there when I was more wowsie. I was very surprised to see that Lake Ontario was entirely ice-less at the shore near Oshawa. The clouds at the blue horizon in the photo above are the lake effect, laying more snow on Buffalo. VIA Rail could pick a more exciting interior colour scheme than beige and seafoam. They used to be more into navy blue and orange, didn’t they?